Hastings pull off great escape

A stoppage time beauty from Danny Ellis gave Hastings United a remarkable 3-2 win over Burgess Hill Town. Picture by Terry S. Blackman
A stoppage time beauty from Danny Ellis gave Hastings United a remarkable 3-2 win over Burgess Hill Town. Picture by Terry S. Blackman

Hastings United came from 2-0 down to win 3-2 in a remarkable game at home to Burgess Hill Town this afternoon (Saturday).

A stoppage time beauty from Danny Ellis gave United a highly improbable victory and extended their unbeaten home record in Ryman Football League Division One South into the new year.

There was little indication of the drama that was to follow during a first half of relatively few chances. The first real opening fell to United in the eighth minute, but Sam Adams pulled his left-foot shot just wide of the far post after receiving a Ronnie Dolan pass and beating two defenders.

Hillians opened the scoring with their first opportunity 12 minutes later. United goalkeeper Josh Pelling came for but didn’t get to Darren Budd’s corner from the right and big defender Lee Denyer planted a powerful header high into the net.

Kenny Pogue had an effort pushed aside from a virtually impossible angle during a better United spell before a firm drive by Tom Vickers from 25 yards was well held by Hillians goalkeeper Alan Mansfield. Vickers then almost embarrased Mansfield with a free kick from fully 45 yards which struck the crossbar.

Into the second half and Hillians doubled their advantage in the 52nd minute. A low ball across goal from the left-hand side of the box by Greg Luer was turned home by the sliding Pat Harding at the far post for his 16th of the season.

Trevor McCreadie missed a great chance to pull one back almost immediately by pulling a left-foot shot wide of the far post, but did find the net in the 58th minute by heading home an inch-perfect cross from Adams, who had been released down the right by a lovely Pogue flick.

Hillians were doing a good job of preventing United from building any momentum until the U’s levelled in the 78th minute thanks to a combination of persistence and a massive slice of luck. Mansfield’s attempted clearance from the right-hand side of his box struck Vickers and rebounded into the net.

The visitors ought to have gone straight back in front, but Luer completely missed his kick on the volley at the back post from Max Miller’s right wing cross. Miller then sent a lob from the right just over with Pelling out of his goal.

United won it in the 92nd minute when McCreadie laid the ball off for Ellis to curl a delightful finish into the top corner from five yards outside the box, sparking big celebrations in the United camp and leaving Hillians wondering how they were going home empty-handed.

United: Pelling, Gilbert, Henson, Olorunda (Ellis 57), Judge, Kelly, Dolan, Adams, McCreadie, Pogue, Vickers. Subs not used: Darby, Camara, Pacheco, Lee. Attendance: 400.